When Veev launches its Spring-Summer collection of bags in its homeland Chennai this weekend, it will be opening its doors far beyond this city. The offline launch at Amethyst will coincide with an online launch on its website, wooing customers in the US, UK, Japan, Indonesia and Turkey. The website also enables the brand to connect with loyal International patrons who enjoy using its distinctive hand-woven and loom-woven bags, which are created by women along the Coromandel coast.
The brand, over a decade old, works with designers in Europe and India, to create bags made of leather but woven like traditional baskets of yore.
India forms a little less than a third of Veev’s market, says CEO and founder Prakash Venkatesan. He adds, “Our know-how is very European, but curiously, our end market is only moderately European — Spain, Italy and France. We tend to have a lot of traction from the far East, like Japan. Taiwan is an emerging market for us. The US has always been a good market for us.”
Prakash has self-professedly been designing bags for nearly 20 years now: in the first part of his career for international brands like Coach, and since 2010 for Veev.
His upcoming Spring-Summer collection is called Beyond The Shores. “We wanted to give a light, ethereal feel to the whole collection. We did not want the bags to be large or heavily loaded: we wanted breezy, easy and light. The shades of colour, material and textures have been chosen with that in mind,” states Prakash.
Easy, breezy collection
There are 18 styles overall, divided — as most of Veev’s bags are — into the heritage line and the signature line. “The difference between the two is that heritage is hand-created to shape without any seams or stitching, whereas signature is handwoven on wooden looms before being stitched and assembled to shape.” The former, he says, tends to lean towards earthy and natural shades, while the latter tends to be more bright and cheerful.
Prakash and team have fun with the signature bags especially, as in the case of Beyond The Shores. “You will find new takes on the fanny pack, and shapes that you traditionally don’t find in woven style. For instance, totes and baskets are classic shapes to weave bags into, but cylinder bags, body bags and fanny packs are more creative takes that we have had this time,” he explains.
Another interesting aspect of Veev’s process is the way they treat their material. The brand has always been vocal about using only vegetable-dyed and vegetable-tanned leather, but Prakash adds to this saying: “Ours is tanned using very old techniques, using extracts from barks of trees and soaked in pits the old-fashioned way. It’s an eco-friendly and time-tested process wherein aggressive chemicals are not used, but it is also long, manual and labour-intensive. In modern industrial processes, tanning is done in less than two days; but we take around 40 days. This technique is predominant in Tamil Nadu, and has been in vogue for over 100 years.”
A long time coming
More than the leather itself, it is the thought process behind Beyond The Shores that has been a long time coming. Prakash calls it a culmination of four other collections launched over the course of the pandemic. “At the beginning of the pandemic, we felt the need to look to the future with some hope. So our first collection during the pandemic was named Black to Light, based on the concept of a silver lining on the edge of a dark cloud. Subsequently, we created the Bag Of Love collection last year and then moved on to AisleandI and Eden. The former was conceptually tethered to the solitary isles we had built around ourselves during the course of lockdown “from where I am making sense of the rest of the world and communicating with it”.
Eden was hopeful of creating a better future. “Now,” says Prakash, “things are opening up, so we see ourselves going beyond the shores and reaching out to everyone again.”
Beyond The Shore will be launched online and at The Folly, Amethyst, Chennai, on April 30. Prices range from ₹5,700 to ₹35,000. There is an exhibit discount for physical guests and walk-in buyers.